Ben Goodgame and Zeke Mitchell came into the studio yesterday and sang like champs. They gave their all for 2 hours straight, singing on 4 different songs.
Oh, and they are both 9 years old.
And, they are both from Ethiopia!
Ben and Zeke have been friends for as long as they can remember. On the night my son Ben (and I) arrived home to America, Zeke was one year old and waiting with his family in our front yard. The Mitchells (and a bunch of other families) sang hymns and prayed for us as Ben began his new life in Tennessee, leaving behind his old life in an Ethiopian orphanage.
Both of these boys were born into a struggle. The first two years of Ben’s life were filled with more hardship than all my 43 years put together. And yet, their struggle is the same as mine. Their struggle is the same as yours.
Here is Paul, in his epic letter to the Ephesians.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…
On Sing the Bible Volume 1, friendly monsters (and kids, and friendly bees) joined me in singing Deuteronomy 6:5.
On Sing the Bible Volume 2, Dracula and Frankenstein dropped by the studio again and joined me for our Ten Commandments song.
(On Sing the Bible Volume 3, they are likely taking a break from the studio, though I’m sure they’ll be back eventually.)
Over the years, I’ve been asked about those choices a few times, usually by someone who thought it seemed strange – maybe even wrong – to include something as silly or as scary as “monsters” on a CD about the Bible.
And I totally get it. It is kind of strange.
Then, a few weeks ago, I received a very thoughtful email that prompted me to gather my thoughts for a reply. Since I’ve just (today!) released the video for our Ten Commandments song, I thought today would be a good day to share that reply here.
About the monsters, I’m glad you asked this very fair question. On a practical theological level, I handle it like Veggie Tales handles Bob and Larry, avoiding the issue of salvation for them because they are not real, of course.
As I’m sure you know, mild scariness is one of the ways we introduce the concept of danger to kids – through games like peek-a-boo and “I’m gonna get you!” chase games. Ironically, it’s (of course) also one of the ways we have fun.
For me, reared as I was on Sesame Street (Cookie Monster, The Count, and Grover’s “The Monster at the End of this Book” come to mind) – it is easy for me to use monsters for mildly scary / humorous purposes.
That said, there are deeper message at work. First, do not fear… maybe the Bible’s most frequent admonition. Also, things are not always as they seem. What may at first seem monstrous may prove otherwise, so be slow to judge.
Third, I’m thinking of the great passage from Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton about bogeys and dragons… his point was that fairy tales show that there is something stronger than darkness. In all of the way S&B uses monsters, it is with a similar spirit – that the context of the Gospel overwhelms fear.
Finally, I go back to examples like Sesame Street’s Grover and Bugs Bunny’s abominable snowman. By incorporating “monsters” into fun settings, we bring them onto our level, which allows not only freedom from fear but the beginning of empathy for the “other.” (These are friendly monsters!) And after all, no one I encounter daily is completely evil. most everyone I meet is a mixed bag (like me)!
I wouldn’t say monsters belong in songs about the Bible, though I might say they are already there. With another nod to G.K. Chesterton, “I” am what is wrong with the world. If there are monsters, then they are inside me, and inside you. Thank God in Heaven for the terrible and merciful and ultimate victory on the cross. His victory sets us free to live lives of love and self-forgetfulness. Because of Christ, we are monsters no more.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
In the first two days, we have already climbed to 35% of our goal. Woohoo! Of course, we need to get to 100%, to make sure everyone gets the new Sing the Bible CDs.
If you haven’t heard already, Slugs & Bugs is Kickstarting TWO Sing the Bible CDs at the same time. I’m recording with my producer and friend, Ben Shive again, and you can follow along here or on Facebook as I post new behind the scenes videos as we record.
The first CD will be Sing the Bible Volume 3, and the second CD will be Sing the Bible Christmas. Both will be word-for-word Scripture songs all about Jesus.
Sing the Bible Volume 3 will focus on the life, words, and mission of Jesus. Here are a few examples:
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation… (Colossians 1:15-19)
I am the vine, you are the branches… (John 15:4-5)
The Samaritan woman at the well / Jesus gives living water… (John 4:5-14)
Parables from Matthew 13 (The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, a treasure hidden in a field)
Dwelling on these verses has been a rich blessing for me, and some of these new songs have become my favorites I’ve ever composed. Right now, “More Than Conquerors”—the new song from Romans 8:35,37-39 is my MOST favorite song I’ve ever written.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship
or persecution or famine or nakedness
or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is the best news the world has ever known, and I never get tired of singing about it. It’s hard to get all the way through without breaking down into tears.
Sing the Bible Christmas will focus on, well, Christmas! Here are a few of the verses we’ve chosen:
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… (Isaiah 9:6)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God… (John 1:1-4)
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us… (John 1:14)
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son born of woman… (Galatians 4:4-7)
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices… (Mary’s Song from Luke 1)
One of the fun quirks of Sing the Bible Christmas CD will be the musical style. Both Ben and I are big fans of the jazz piano music from the Peanuts Christmas Special. And that sound from the Vince Guaraldi trio heavily influenced my writing for this project.
Please visit the Kickstarter page for more info, behind the scenes video footage and early demo videos of the new songs! And then, please choose a reward (lots of great options) and support the making of TWO new Sing the Bible CDs from Slugs & Bugs!
Wait – I almost forgot. Please share about this campaign! Pass this blog post around, and others that tell the story.. Here’s the link http://bit.ly/STBVol3 to copy and paste into an email if you’d like to share the campaign with friends and family.
I can hardly believe it, but it’s almost time to launch our Kickstarter campaign for Sing the Bible Volume 3 AND Sing the Bible Christmas! Ben Shive (producer) and I have already begun outlining song forms and it’s starting to get very exciting.
If you’re on our our mailing list, you know the theme for Sing the Bible Volume 3 – the life, words and mission of Jesus – and maybe you’ve even submitted a bible verse request.
We’ve received requests for well over 200 verses, and our goal is 14 songs, so we may not get to them all, but if there’s a verse on your mind, please type your suggestion in the comments. I wrote a song this morning (When You Give To The Needy – Matthew 6:2-4 ) from a request I received today! (I’m looking at you, Lauda Harmon of Charlottesville, VA!)
Here are the songs I’ve written so far for Volume 3, many from your suggestions.
I Am the Way – John 14:5-6
I Am the Vine – John 15:4-5
Sermon on the Mount/Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12
The Kingdom of Heaven (Parable Song) – Matthew 13:31-32, 44
More than Conquerors – Romans 8:35, 37-39
Bread Alone – Matthew 4:4
Our Struggle – Ephesians 6:12
Living Water – John 4:5-14
Jesus Christ is the Same – Hebrews 13:8
Get up! – John 5:5-13
Be Kind and Compassionate – Ephesians 4:32
When You Give To The Needy – Matthew 6:2-4
Our hope is to raise enough through Kickstarter to record Volume 3 AND a Sing the Bible Christmas CD. And if things go through the roof on Kickstarter… a classic Slugs & Bugs Silly Song CD.
But we’ll start with 14 songs that point to the life, words and mission of Jesus.
Stay tuned, and be ready to help us spread the word! We’ll announce it here on the blog as soon as we launch on Kickstarter!
(If you have Scripture verse request -feel free to leave your verse in a comment! If you’ve already made a request through the Newsletter or ourFacebook page, I’ve definitely seen it!)
After years of development and many months of testing, Slugs & Bugs has an app!
At first, I just wanted a safe place for kids to (digitally) watch Slugs & Bugs videos. However, I soon realized a word-jumble memory game could provide another fun way for parents and kids to engage with Scripture. Our brilliant designer, Chris Dainty (from Canada), brought the vision to life with such bright simplicity – I can’t wait for all Slugs & Bugs fans to try it. It is currently limited to apple products (iPhone/iPad) but we are hoping to develop an Android version in 2017. (Watch the video for a glimpse inside the app!)
•The Family Game, (free – ages 5 and up) unscramble Bible verses (1-4 players or teams)
• Slugs & Bugs Videos: watch exclusive app-only (ad-free) .
• Bible Flash Cards to help you learn the Bible and sharpen your skills for our board game
• Memory Matching Game featuring S&B characters
• Upcoming tour dates
• News and encouraging parenting posts from the Slugs and Bugs blog.
* In-app purchase unlocks 100 more verses, many more videos, and a second game board!
Here’s another new Christmas Scripture song with music inspired by Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts Christmas music. I usually use the ESV, but for this song I reached back into the King James version so I could sing the words, “unto us.” I also borrowed a word from the NLT which says, “rest upon his shoulder.”
One of the most challenging things about writing in 5/4 time is keeping the melody naturally singable. Hopefully you can sing along at home without much trouble.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall rest upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Be on the lookout for the third “Sing the Bible” CD from Slugs & Bugs in 2017!
And BRAND NEW from Slugs & Bugs: The Slugs & Bugs APP! Play Scripture memory games, watch Slugs & Bugs videos and so much more. Click Here to find it!
For the last several weeks I’ve been working on new Scripture songs for a future “Sing the Bible Christmas” CD. Because of my piano background and my deep appreciation for Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts Christmas” special, I’ve decided to write these songs in the style of the Peanuts Christmas soundtrack.
It’s been so fun digging in to this style, and SO richly inspiring dwelling on Jesus and the miracle of his birth – outside the Christmas season. His birth marks the beginning of the final chapter of the last word on God’s unfathomable love for us.
Here’s a video of one of the first songs I’ve worked on… In the Beginning (John 1:1-4,14)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him; and without him nothing was made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
We’re hoping to record in January, which probably means a Kickstarter campaign very soon. So stay tuned, and thanks for listening to Slugs & Bugs.